The Rise and Development of the Landless Movement in the Triângulo Mineiro
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This Senior Individualized Project explores the achievements and shortcomings of the landless movement in Brazil. Rather than attempt to analyze the diverse experience of the fight for the land on a national level, I explore a case study of the Trianglo Mineiro, one of the geographically and economically determined regions of the state of Minas Gerais. I argue that contemporary social movement theory is helpful for framing and understanding the rise and development of the movement in this area. My principal arguments concern the main factors responsible for shaping the movement during these phases. The support of the Catholic Church, as well as progressive rural workers' unions (particularly active in the neighboring region of Alto Paranmoa), was crucial for the rise of the movement in the Triangulo Mineiro. These two groups allowed the landless to take advantage of political opportunities available during the process of democratization. The movement was also able to draw upon the rich history of resistance by the country's landless, using land occupations as their principal means of pressuring the government to fulfill its promises of reform. The role of the government's program of agricultural modernization during this period was also crucial to movement formation and development. During its development, the landless movement established its own formal movement organizations. Their mobilization in the region has been key in bringing about many positive developments, but has also led to increased levels of violence on the part of the state and large landowner. The election of Lula has perhaps been the most significant accomplishment for the movement during this time. Although the government is still largely unresponsive to the needs of the rural poor, the absence of repressive measures has allowed for a further proliferation of the movement.